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However, is the practice of 'editorial rejection' or 'screening' used extensively in the publishing of scholarly research journals? How is it justified? Here are some illustrative quotations from journal editorials or guidelines for authors, identifying some of the issues:
- Data in columns 3-6 is at 24 April 2005. We expect to resolve the 21 year 2004 receivals that are pending at 24 April by the end of May 2005.
- Data in columns 3-6 is at 24 April 2005. We estimate that at the end of 2005 there will be about 10 receivals in the pending category.
- Data for HERD was provided by HERDSA's President and published in HERDSA List, Thurs 31 March by Roger Landbeck, List Moderator. HERD uses the term "rejected at screening".
- The number of articles accepted from a particular year's receivals does not correspond to the number published in each year, owing to time taken for review and revisions, and fluctuations in the speed of these processes. For example, AJET published 24 articles in 2003, the majority being 2002 receivals.
- Some of the rejected articles may appear again as receivals in a subsequent year. The reasons for counting these instances as rejections are to enable a clearer cut off for each year's outcomes, and to align data collection with the editorial advice, used in a significant proportion of cases, 'Reject. Invite resubmission of a revised or expanded work for a new review process'.
- The acceptance rate cannot be calculated until after resolving all receivals in the pending category.
Some editors tend to send most manuscripts out to reviewers, allowing the review board to have input on received manuscripts; others are more selective in what they send out, trying to respect their reviewers' time by sending only manuscripts that have a reasonable chance of acceptance. (Niederhauser, Wetzel & Lindstrom, 2004)The quotations underline some important issues: conserving reviewers' time, providing good formative feedback to the authors of rejected papers, and maintaining a watching brief on the editorial policies of other journals (you may be aware that the New England Journal of Medicine is regarded by many as the quintessential prestigious journal).
Before you send the paper out to referees, perform a first pass - a quick scan of the paper. ...you have the authority to return a paper to the authors without referee reports (preempt-reject) if you notice a serious problem with the paper. In such cases, clearly outline the problem and, if possible, provide some guidance to the authors about how the paper could be improved or what might be a more appropriate outlet. This does not happen very often, but it does happen. I would recommend preempt-reject in cases where the authors have failed to follow a substantial portion of the instructions to authors or where the paper is not suitable for ITE. (ITE, 2003)
... if a paper has little chance of seeing final publication, most journals will reject it out of hand, without sending it out for review. At the New England Journal of Medicine, most papers that make it through the first hurdle get at least two reviews from some of the 17,000 reviewers in the Journal's database... (Darves, undated)
The provision of good formative feedback to the authors of rejected papers can be quite time consuming. However, we justify such work being done by the Editors as it constitutes a long term investment, a cultivating of potential authors, or a 'generalist' time input relating to persons, in contrast to the work of our reviewers, who are making more immediate investments of 'specialist' time into improving a particular article. Nevertheless, the question of the opposite approach, Editorial approval of 'obvious' acceptances and external reviewer feedback for papers with 'little chance', is a possibility, if only fleetingly considered. Take these examples of 'Editor only' approval cited in Wikipedia under the heading "Famous papers which were not peer-reviewed" :
Although peer review is one of the cornerstones of the modern scientific methodology, some famous papers have been published without review. These include:However, as AJET's Editors are unlikely to have to deal editorially with comparably "famous papers", we'll not get into 'Editor only' approval.
- Publication of Watson and Crick's 1951 paper on the structure of DNA in Nature. This paper was not sent out for peer review. John Maddox stated that "the Watson and Crick paper was not peer-reviewed by Nature... the paper could not have been refereed: its correctness is self-evident. No referee working in the field ... could have kept his mouth shut once he saw the structure"...
- The 1905 issue of Annalen der Physik, in which Einstein published five extraordinary papers including special relativity and the photoelectric effect. The journal's editor in chief, Max Planck, recognized the virtue of publishing such outlandish ideas and had the papers published; none of Einstein's papers were sent to reviewers. The decision to publish was made exclusively by either the editor in chief, or the co-editor Wilhelm Wien - both certainly 'peers' beyond doubt (who were later to win the Nobel prize in physics)...
Roger Atkinson and Catherine McLoughlin
AJET Production Editor and AJET Editor
House of Commons (2004). Scientific Publications: Free for all? House of Commons Science and Technology Committee. Tenth Report of Session 2003-04 (HC 3991) http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200304/cmselect/cmsctech/399/399.pdf
ITE (2003). Instructions to Associate Editors. INFORMS (Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences) Transactions on Education. [viewed 24 Apr 2005] http://ite.pubs.informs.org/info/assocEditors.php
Niederhauser, D.S., Wetzel, K. & Lindstrom, D. L. (2004). From manuscript to article: Publishing educational technology research. Contemporary Issues in Technology & Teacher Education, 4(2). http://www.citejournal.org/vol4/iss2/editorial/article1.cfm
in AJET 21(2)
Blogtalk Downunder http://incsub.org/blogtalk/ Sydney, 19-21 May 2005
Royal Pines Resort, Gold Coast,
Qeensland, 2-6 July 2005
Exploring the frontiers
12th International Conference of the
Association for Learning Technology
University of Manchester, England
6-8 September 2005
Brisbane, Queensland https://olt.qut.edu.au/udf/ascilite2005/
The Australasian Journal of Educational Technology is a refereed research journal published three times per year jointly by the Australasian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education and the Australian Society for Educational Technology. Prior to Volume 20, 2004, AJET's title was Australian Journal of Educational Technology. Members of ASET, ASCILITE and ISPI (Vic) receive AJET as a part of their membership benefits.
For details on submission of manuscripts, subscriptions and access to the AJET online archives, please see http://www.ascilite.org.au/ajet/
For review inquiries, contact the Editor, Associate Professor Catherine McLoughlin, School of Education (ACT), Australian Catholic University, PO Box 256, Dickson ACT 2602, Australia. Email: C.McLoughlin@signadou.acu.edu.au, Tel: +61 2 6209 1100 Fax +61 2 6209 1185. For production matters and subscriptions contact the Production Editor and Business Manager, Dr Roger Atkinson, 5/202 Coode Street, Como WA 6152, Australia. Email: email@example.com, Tel: +61 8 9367 1133.
AJET is managed by an Editorial Board nominated by ASCILITE and ASET. The 2005 Editorial Board comprises:
Catherine McLoughlin (Editor), Australian Catholic UniversityCopyright in individual articles contained in Australasian Journal of Educational Technology and its predecessor title is vested in each of the authors in respect of his or her contributions. Copyright in AJET is vested in ASET (1985-86), AJET Publications (1987-1996), and ASCILITE and ASET (from 1997).
Roger Atkinson (Production Editor)
Trish Andrews, University of Queensland
Carolyn Dowling, Australian Catholic University
Mike Keppell, Hong Kong Institute of Education
Lori Lockyer, University of Wollongong
Mary Jane Mahony, University of Sydney
One appointment pending for ASET
© 2005 All rights reserved. No part of this journal may be reprinted or reproduced without permission from the publishers. ISSN 1449-3098 (print) 1449-5554 (online).
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